Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: 2020 Cheltenham Festival - Day 4 Preview

2020 Cheltenham Festival - Day 4 Preview

Jockey rides horse

Neil Morrice brings us his in-depth analysis of the fourth day of the Cheltenham Festival. 

JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) 

TWO horses with almost identical profiles help head the market for the juvenile hurdling championship. Front runners ALLMANKIND and GOSHEN are both unbeaten in three and the former has no reason to worry about CERBERUS who he beat by nine lengths at Chepstow in December. His trainer Harry Skelton reckons this could be the best he’s trained, while Gary Moore is glowing in his praise for Goshen, even though the gelding might prefer the race to be on a right-handed track.

Also vying for favouritism is the former French-based SOLO who looked something out of the ordinary when hacking up in a recognised trial at Kempton. To the naked eye that was a very special performance and afforded the Paul Nicholls-trained gelding a towering mark that only another convincing win would justify. It was Solo’s first run out of Ditcheat and the question is whether he can stage a repeat on the biggest stage. ASPIRE TOWER is the highest-rated of the Irish runners but the jury is out as to whether he would have won at Leopardstown last month but for falling at the final flight.

A WAVE OF THE SEA may also serve his country well, having grittily landed the spoils in his trial for this at the same course.

Predicted Finish


2nd Solo

3rd Cerberus

4th Goshen

5th Aspire Tower

6th A Wave Of The Sea

Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)

Remarkably Willie Mullins and Dan Skelton have between them won seven of the last ten runnings of this. For the renewal Mullins fields five and Skelton just one, but that is none less than the 2018 winner MOHAAYED whose recent form doesn’t justify a short price of around 8-1. Clearly, the gelding has been campaigned with this one race in mind.

Working out the best of the Mullins quintet is far from easy, though the betting suggests it may be CIEL DE NEIGE who is consistency personified and went down narrowly to Pic D’Orhy in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last month, for which he started favourite. ARAMON is another that could do well, buoyed by a big class drop after finishing out of the money behind Honeysuckle in a Grade 1 last time. SAINT ROI takes the eye moving straight into a big handicap after getting a mark but with only three outings under his belt might not have the track craft that only experience can bring.

BUILMEUPBUTTERCUP is also worth a market check after a hugely eye-catching run when strong in the market at Leopardstown. The 6yo got no run whatsoever that day and was unlucky not to go close. Nicky Henderson’s main arrow from three hopefuls looks to be AJDALI who needs to show he’s ready for this after a long lay off but he’s bred to revel in the underfoot conditions. Of the roughies, the Philip Hobbs-trained OAKLEY has a good chance as he didn’t get the best of runs in the Betfair Hurdle, yet wasn’t beaten far.

Predicted Finish


2nd Ciel De Neige

3rd Oakley

4th Saint Roi

5th Aramon

6th Ajdali

Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

THIS looks the most competitive of the novice hurdles at the meeting with 24 of 33 entries at the five-day stage within 10lb of each other in the ratings. The top-rated is THYME HILL who finished third in last year’s Champion Bumper and has notched three wins over hurdles over shorter than these three miles. That said, it was over two miles and five furlongs that he landed the Challow Hurdle at Newbury in cosy style, and Hobbs believes he will enjoy the conditions, though the yard has suffered a couple of major reverses with Sporting John and Defi Du Seuil both underperforming earlier in the week.

For the home trainers, Colin Tizzard’s HARRY SENIOR comes right into the equation and his previous winning experience round here is a good card to have up your sleeve. He stayed on strongly up the hill over two and a half miles in January but there have been one or two from this yard that have also disappointed this week. RAMSES DE TEILLEE is three from four this season. He likes to force the pace and to do that here his jockey will need to be confident about his stamina capabilities, but after staying on dourly over this trip at Haydock he is definitely one for swingers, exactas, and the other exotics.

I have received a persistent whisper for SEMPO who goes down as one of Ireland’s leading lights after his convincing win at Thurles. FURY ROAD and COBBLER’S WAY are others from the Emerald Isle with Each Way chances but perhaps the Irish number one is MONKFISH. He absolutely bolted up in a different race at that course, will enjoy the ground and is going to stay every inch of the trip, according to the excellent Willie Mullins.

Predicted Finish


2nd Ramses De Teillee

3rd Thyme Hill

4th Harry Senior

5th Sempo

6th Cobbler’s Way

Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade 1)

THE Willie Mullins/Nicky Henderson rivalry reaches its crescendo in chasing’s blue riband but while the first-named trainer saddles a trio including last year’s winner AL BOUM PHOTO, Henderson relies solely on second season novice SANTINI. Horses from that category have a good record in the race, a statistic that should bouy Henderson given his giant has not always enjoyed uninterrupted build ups to his major targets. That was the case before his defeat in the RSA Chase last season, while this term it’s not been plain sailing either as he scrambled home on his reappearance in a graduation chase at Sandown and had a wind op before seeing off BRISTOL DE MAI in the Cotswold Chase on this course. On that evidence there’s not much to choose between the pair, and why Bristol De Mai can be backed at 25-1 while Santini is only 7-2 beggars belief.

Al Boum Photo meanwhile hasn’t done much wrong after being looked after with this one race in mind. He ran out a stylish winner 12 months ago and on his latest start bossed inferior rivals at Tramore on New Year’s Day. That’s his solitary outing since the spring, and a repeat of the way he was prepared last year. DELTA WORK is in the second season novice bracket and has the best recent form of the Irish runners. He was as good a novice as Santini, and with two hard-fought wins in Grade 1 Chases at Leopardstown this winter is arguably going to beat MONALEE and KEMBOY. I’m surprised Rachael Blackmore has chosen Monalee ahead of CHRIS’S DREAM and the latter could make a good fist of it for Henry De Bromhead. He jumped from fence to fence when scoring over two and a half miles at Gowan Park last month and though yet to cut it at the top level he has any amount of potential, with Aidan Coleman a good deputy.

PRESENTING PERCY flopped in this last year and although returning with a valid excuse doesn’t float my boat, while this testing ground will surely not play to the strengths of the Paul Nicholls-trained CLAN DES OBEAUX. Colin Tizzard’s LOSTINTRANSLATION had a harder race than it seemed when beating Bristol De Mai in Haydock’s Betfair Stakes and showed it when flopping in the King George VI Chase. He’s got plenty of natural talent but there has to be a question whether he can see out the trip in the prevailing conditions.

Predicted Finish


2nd Delta Work

3rd Al Boum Photo

4th Bristol De Mai

5th Kemboy

6th Lostintranslation 

St James’s Palace Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase

FOR a horse that has finished second in a Gold Cup Hunter-chasing is far from a fall from grace and MINELLA ROCCO has excelled at the new discipline for owner JP McManus and trainer Jonjo O’Neill. The ten-year-old took the notable scalp of last year’s winner of this HAZEL HILL at Wetherby which is the best form on offer, while accomplished amateur Derek O’Connor is always an asset when taking the reins.

Hazel Hill is from the ‘old school’ of hunters and his impressive winning sequence goes before him. However he’s now a 12-year-old, and only two horses of that age have won this since 1975. SHANTOU FLYER was a creditable runner-up 12 months ago and has enterprising owner David Maxwell in the plate. Since changing stables he trotted up at Fakenham, a race that is thought to have brought him to concert pitch. Stablemate CAID DU BERLAIS was my selection for the race last year but was never travelling before being pulled up. He’s much better than that, and has easily won both his points to show he’s back in the zone. STAKER WALLACE is another in the McManus silks that needs respecting, as he easily won a point last month and also represents trainer Enda Bolger and rider Jamie Codd.

Predicted Finish


2nd Caid Du Berlais

3rd Shantou Flyer

4th Hazel Hill

5th Staker Wallace

Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

ALTHOUGH there is now no value whatsoever in him the horse with the wow factor is the free going GREANETEEN who bids to make this a sixth win from his last seven starts. Paul Nicholls also has a real chance with CAPELAND who is 10lb higher than for his last win, but that one might struggle to match his unexposed stablemate who is a novice moving into handicaps.

Another unexposed contender is LISP who although let down by his jumping at Doncaster last time comes right into the argument if his previous winning form at Plumpton is examined. He ran well for fifth in the County Hurdle 12 months ago and looks fairly treated off a mark of 144. PALOMA BLUE and top weight GREAT FIELD are two Irish-trained runners that could get involved. Paloma Blue has knocked on the door for Henry De Bromhead and deserves to pick up a decent prize while Great Field has had issues but could prove dangerous if everything clicks. The veteran CROCO BAY is 5lb higher than when winning this after being granted an uncontested lead in 2019, but can’t be completely ruled out.

Predicted Finish


2nd Paloma Blue

3rd Lisp

4th Croco Bay

5th Capeland

6th Great Field

Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (Class 2)

ONE of the best backed Irish horses this week is COLUMN OF FIRE who could send owner Michael O’Leary and trainer Gordon Elliott home smiling. He drops back on the distance ladder which is a minor concern, but was previously a decisive scorer over this distance at Punchestown. He’s a novice for whom improvement is very much on the cards, and has to go well.

The mare INDEFATIGABLE was given a boost of sorts for this by the victory of Dame De Compagnie in the Coral Cup. She has plenty of weight but likes this course, and must not be underestimated. UMBRIGADO is another to consider as his stable has done well with its runners this week without winning. He ran better than his finishing position indicates in the Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot, and was a rattling good novice last year. ILIKETHEWAYYURTHINKIN has attracted plenty of interest in the ante post market, and along with ESCARIA TEN needs taking seriously. If there is any more rain THOMAS MACDONAGH could also have a say. 

Predicted Finish:


2nd Column Of Fire

3rd Ilikethewayurthinkin

4th Indefatigable

5th Thomas Macdonagh

6th Escoria Ten

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